Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Marcus To & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Covers: Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson; Marcos Martin
Release Date: March 18th, 2020
After a successful warwolf hunt, the team is ready to do A’s bidding and seek out the Starlight Citadel to see what is up with the White Witch in charge. Will they find out why the Citadel remains hidden to muntantkind, or start a new war? Let’s find out in Tini Howard’s EXCALIBUER #9!
The issue opens with an Apocalypse info dump in the form of a speech to Excalibur that has some decent writing from Tini Howard, particularly about how distance limited people in the past and how the mutants MOSTLY don’t have to worry about that anymore. The speech and the Starlight Citadel background page highlight Howard’s abilities, but a lot of the inter-character dialogue can be grating. For every nice moment between Rogue consoling Betsy, we get multiple annoying attempts at humorous banter. Dumping on Jubilee may seem cliched at this point, but here it is earned, as her and her kid have been grating throughout the series.
The story Howard tells in this issue contains several threads, not all of which seem necessary, especially one in which Brian Braddock appears for a page only to drive off when Betsy catches him presumably spying on the group. There’s also more Akkaba cult stuff involving Meggan and Pete Wisdom, which could be interesting but is pretty secondary. The main story involves the team trying to investigate this Starlight Citadel and its leader, who REALLY wants nothing to do with them. There’s a terrible X-Position page detailing a chant between the priestess and her followers that negates everything Howard did right with the earlier one. It’s total nonsense that probably wouldn’t have played out much better in traditional panel form, but it easily could have been and was unnecessary to do it this way. There has to be a mandate from Hickman to include at least two of these pages every X-book, right?
Anyways, the team make it to Otherworld, and shortly thereafter are attacked by followers of the White Witch. Boy, that escalated quickly. Also, is it wrong that I enjoyed seeing dragon Shogo take an arrow to the wing and crash to the ground? That’s pretty much how the book ends, and it looks like a war is brewing between the Starlight Citadel and EXCALIBUR.
EXCALIBUR #9 is an average entry in the series. Tini Howard sets up the next arc as well as some secondary storylines that hopefully play in or come to their own resolution. The art is consistent with what we’ve got all series, which isn’t a bad thing. Overall the issue is leaps and bounds above the previous couple, but doesn’t quite reach the heights of other books in the series.